By Karla E General
Impunity Watch Reporter, North America
SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador – Fourteen of El Salvador’s nineteen prisons are now embroiled in mass protests over prisoner living conditions. Inmates have refused to return to their cells, take part in workshops and other activities, allow prisoners to enter or leave the facilities, or allow visitors or medical personnel in. Prisoners are demanding better living conditions before they cooperate with authorities, who are currently on standby in case intervention is needed to restore order.
The protests began on Saturday with eleven prisons and had spread to fourteen by Monday. El Salvador’s prison system is notorious for being massively overcrowded and affording very minimal rights and protections for the prisoner population, which is currently numbered at 20,000 in a prison system that was built to house only 8,000 people. The government has been called upon consistently in the past to address the mass imprisonment of El Salvadorans.
Prisons director Gilbert Caceres blamed the uprisings on inmates who were being manipulated by gangs involved in organized crime.
For more information, please see:
The Earth Times Mass Protests in El Salvador Prisons – 16 February 2009
Radio Netherlands Worldwide – Unrest in El Salvador’s Overcrowded Prisons – 16 February 2009